December 18, 2014

3:58 PM | What would you ask a former hiring manager?
I'm planning on speaking with M.R. Nelson, the author of the excellent e-book "Navigating the Path to Industry." What questions would you like me to ask? 
3:54 PM | Guest post: A comment on the 2014 Employment Outlook issue of C&EN
CJ here -- Frank wrote in with a comment about this year's Employment Outlook issue in C&EN, focusing on Susan Ainsworth's survey of industrial demand. It has been very lightly edited. It's the winter season and everyone's busy these days, trying to finish work up before the end of the year and also preparing for the holidays.  Even CJ's been busy this November and December.  While he highlighted a couple interesting articles in the Nov 3rd edition of C&EN, […]
3:47 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 12/18/14 edition
A few of this past week's postings on C&EN Jobs: Pasadena, TX: I would love, love, love to see the applications that come in for this B.S. QC chemist position for Total's Bayport plant. They're asking for 5 years experience -- how much does that cost in the rather hot Texas chemistry job market? I'd love to know. Arlington, VA: This is such a weird B.S./M.S. policy position -- it sure seems like a government thing, but there's no obvious "security clearance needed" […]
11:58 AM | A Call For Justice #OccupyCitibank
In the beautiful words of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins: I was taught that justice is a right that every American should have. Also justice should be the goal of every American. I think that’s what makes this country. To me, justice means the innocent should be found innocent. It means that those who […]
8:00 AM | Complexity versus chaos
Another clip from David Colander and Roland Kupers’s Complexity and the Art of Public Policy: Solving Society’s Problems from the Bottom Up – a nice description of how two often confused terms, complexity and chaos, differ and interrelate: Chaos theory is a field of applied mathematics whose roots date back to the nineteenth century, to French mathematician Henri […]

December 17, 2014

8:44 PM | Chemist mystery of the day: Who died in 2013?
Thanks to Twitter chatter about the deadliest occupations, I was looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and found this interesting tidbit: in 2013, 3 chemists died on the job. Their cause of death is not clear, but it seems to me (from the table) that at least 1 of them died from "violence and other injuries by persons or animals."Any ideas? 
7:55 PM | Book review: Molecules, by Theodore Gray
A page of "Molecules", by Theodore GreyI am not really one for coffee table books (only recently having owned a coffee table, or a living room to have one in in), but I had the recent opportunity to look at a review copy of "Molecules", by software guru and chemical enthusiast Theodore Gray. The photos (by Nick Mann) in the book are gorgeous. What is really worthwhile is his uniquely curated different sets of objects that he photographed (each representing a particular molecule or class of […]
4:44 PM | Geopolitical news diversion
Bold predictions:1. This drop in oil prices won't last. I predict that there will be no Russian bond default in 2015.2. Anyone want to predict when pharma will start moving manufacturing to Cuba, now that the US will be normalizing relations? 
1:28 PM | What would a data-driven Congress look like?
Recently I’ve seen two very different versions of what a more data-driven Congress would look like, both emerging from the recent cruddy Cromnibus bill mess. First, there’s this Bloomberg article, written by the editors, about using data to produce evidence on whether a given policy is working or not. Given what I know about how […]
1:16 PM | Video of John Boik, Houston Oasis: Creating a More Egalitarian Society
John Boik’s talk at Houston Oasis, December 7, 2014 is available on YouTube. The title is “Creating a More Egalitarian Society: An Introduction to Economic Direct Democracy.” A general overview Continue Reading → The post Video of John Boik, Houston Oasis: Creating a More Egalitarian Society appeared first on Principled Societies Project.

December 16, 2014

7:39 PM | Anyone heard of paying chemists by the reaction?
The different ways to pay chemists:1. A yearly salary2. An hourly wage3. By project (i.e. deliver4. Subsistence wages, suppletmented with food and alcohol (kidding)Has anyone heard of paying people by the reaction? If so, how did it work out for you? How much did you get paid?Seems to me that this is a bad deal for any chemist. (How do you determine how you get paid? Do you have to work up the reaction, or just set it up? How many stir plates do you get?) Surely there is some kind of labor law […]
7:39 PM | Like the northern white rhino
From the 2nd latest C&EN issue, a Merck ad for positions in Rahway. Rather unusual these days. 
2:33 PM | Fairness, accountability, and transparency in big data models
As I wrote about already, last Friday I attended a one day workshop in Montreal called FATML: Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning. It was part of the NIPS conference for computer science, and there were tons of nerds there, and I mean tons. I wanted to give a report on the day, as […]
8:00 AM | More praise of mathematics
Following my post last week on the need for more complicated models in economics, a new paper in PLOS Biology argues for the importance of mathematical models in showing ‘proof of concept’ (HT: Santa Fe Institute News). The authors write: Proof-of-concept models, used in many fields, test the validity of verbal chains of logic by […]
12:05 AM | A great article about graphene or, Did I catch The New Yorker in an error?
I am not a graphene expert, but I really liked this John Colapinto article about graphene research in The New Yorker. Also, if you like Rice University's Jim Tour, he gets the full The New Yorker profile treatment. But here's an interesting section on using graphene in 3D printing (emphasis mine):The group’s members were pondering how to integrate graphene into the objects they print. They might mix the material into plastic or simply print it onto the surface of existing objects. There […]

December 15, 2014

10:42 PM | Best wishes to Carmen Drahl
Also in this week's C&EN, Carmen Drahl writes on the chemistry of holiday tinsel, including the fact that they used to have lead tinsel (good gravy.)This is just as good as any time to say that Carmen has announced on Twitter that she is resigning her position at the end of the year to become a freelance writer. I'm sad for the C&EN readership -- I will miss her articles. She's had a tremendous positive influence on me over the years and she has shaped the chemistry blogosphere from […]
8:17 PM | This week's C&EN
Back to blogging (and here's to a complete week, he said):Andrea Widener writes on the new NRC report on postdoctoral work/life balance issues. I'll have to look into that more. Interesting Celia Arnaud piece on Tim Swager's sensors for gases that are enabled for communication with smartphones. Why it's taken 8 years for reality to catch up with the technology on CSI is beyond me. (Kidding!) This Michael McCoy piece about pine chemicals is wonderful; I did not know that they're […]
1:55 PM | Liz Warren nails it
I don’t have enough time for a full post today, but if you haven’t already, please watch Liz Warren’s speech from last Friday. She lays out the facts about Citigroup in an uncomplicated way. Surprising and refreshing coming from a politician.

December 14, 2014

5:27 PM | The high cost of low-priced oil
As a consumer of oil, you may regard recent sharp declines in the world oil price as a blessing. But...If you work in the oil industry, you will not.If you work in the renewable energy industry, you will not.If you work in the energy efficiency business, you will not.If you work to address climate change, you will not.If you have investments in the oil industry (and nearly everyone does through pensions or 401k plans), you will not.If you live in a country that exports a lot of oil (not just […]

December 13, 2014

11:49 AM | Aunt Pythia’s advice
Aunt Pythia has something in the works for you dear people, but it’s not quite ready yet, and you’ll have to wait another week. Rest assured, it will be worth it. And apologies to subscribers who received an errant test post this week. In the meantime, Aunt Pythia is going to write a quick […]

December 12, 2014

3:19 PM | Stupid internet
Blogging soon.
8:00 AM | A week of links
Links this week: Why progress has ground to a halt. Development professionals are biased like their subjects. Are schools failing? Cato Unbound – a libertarian perspective on extraterrestrial life.

December 11, 2014

8:00 PM | Bonus Process Wednesday: CSB speculation as to DuPont methanethiol deaths
From CSB chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso's written testimony in front of Congress today, the relevant portion on the November DuPont deaths due to methanethiol exposure: ...DuPont is certainly no “outlier.” In fact, DuPont has long been regarded as one of industry’s leading lights in safety, and it markets its safety programs to other companies. What happened last month, however, was the fifth release incident at a DuPont facility that the CSB has investigated since 2010, and […]
7:19 PM | Well done, Intel
From an ad for a Materials Chemist (synthetically oriented) at Intel Corporation, these requirements (emphasis mine):Minimum Qualifications:The candidate must possess a Ph.D. in one of the following disciplines: Chemistry, specifically synthetic inorganic, synthetic organic, or synthetic organometallic chemistry Preferred Qualifications:Strong synthetic background, especially as it relates to the handling of air-sensitive compounds  Proficiency in using NMR spectroscopy, x-ray […]
7:10 PM | Daily Pump Trap: 12/11/14 edition
A few of the positions posted at C&EN Jobs this week:Norwell, MA: Battelle looking for a B.S. chemist (4 years experience) for a GLP study director -- looks to be pesticide-related. Posted salary: 60-105k.Santa Cruz, CA: Another entry in the #cannabischemjobs database. SC Laboratories hiring a M.S/Ph.D. analytical chemist.Floyd, VA:  Hollingsworth & Vose Company is searching for what seems like a product development scientist with some combination of education and experience […]
2:22 PM | A good non-traditional careers story
Anonymous helpfully points out the continuing Fazlul Sarkar saga at Retraction Watch, including the affidavit in support of PubPeer by Dr. John Krueger, a former ORI investigator who stood up their forensic image group and:My direct expertise in forensic image analysis stems from 20 years of relevant federal work in my second career, starting as one of the original Investigator–Scientists in the Division of Research Investigations (or later the Division of Investigative Oversight), Office […]
11:54 AM | Join Occupy the SEC in Pushing Congress to Reject Dodd-Frank Deregulation
There’s some tricky business going on right now in politics, with a bunch of ridiculous last-minute negotiations to roll back elements of Dodd-Frank and aid Wall Street banks in the current budget deal. Hell, it’s the end of the year, and people are distracted, so the public won’t mind if the banks get formal government […]
8:00 AM | My year
In the day job, for most of this year I was seconded onto the Australian Government’s Financial System Inquiry. The Inquiry was established to provide a broad review of the Australian financial system, looking at system stability, competition, consumer protection, technological change and whether the system was serving the needs of users. The Inquiry’s final report is now out […]

December 10, 2014

3:07 PM | Video cameras won’t solve the #EricGarner situation, but they will help
As many thoughtful people have pointed out already, Eric Garner’s case proves that video evidence is not a magic bullet to combat and punish undue police brutality. The Grand Jury deemed such evidence insufficient for an indictment, even if the average person watching the video cannot understand that point of view. Even so, it would be a […]

December 09, 2014

7:52 PM | The 2013 Survey of Earned Doctorates is out
How did the Ph.D. chemists do? From "TABLE 59. Statistical profile of postgraduation plans of doctorate recipients in physical sciences fields, by sex and field of study: 2013" (PDF)Let's remember this for the future: the modal outcome of a Ph.D. in chemistry in 2013 was a postdoctoral appointment, just like it has been for the past 20 years.I've taken the Excel file and isolated it to just the chemistry Ph.D.s. Plenty of data to chew on.(Year after year, the thing that continues to amaze me is […]
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